Destinations Thailand

7 Unmissable Things to do in Phuket

Phuket Old Town, image courtesy of Shutterstock

Looking for things to do in Phuket? We’ve put together the ultimate insider’s guide of the best experiences on this island paradise.

Seeking a tranquil island escape that has pristine beaches, rainforests, beachfront luxury resorts and more? Phuket is the place to make unforgettable memories in an unreal setting. This palm-fringed, mountainous island sitting off the southern coast is the country’s largest, a gem in the ocean that’s home to some of the best beaches in Thailand. With sparkling blue waters, rich culture, delectable local cuisine and lively nightlife, Phuket has earned its reputation as a holiday favourite.

This tropical wonderland has grown in popularity as a flop-and-drop destination – but when venturing out to explore and sample the culture, what are the top things to do in Phuket? We’ve picked seven unmissable experiences for all types of travellers.

Ready to experience Phuket? Discover the award-winning Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, one of the island’s finest.

Eat your way through Naka Night Market

The love language of Phuket is food and there is no better place to experience the local cuisine than at Naka Market. Each weekend night, just outside Phuket Town, you’ll find this bustling market. The market opens at 4pm – it’s best to get here early to stock up on local produce, clothes, and traditional handicrafts. In the evenings, visitors arrive in droves to taste mouthwatering street food. Try the famed grilled chicken, herb spice sausages and – if you’re feeling brave – fried insect dishes. Wash down your feast with a locally revered jarred beer.

Spend a restful day at Nai Harn Beach

What better way to kickstart your tropical Thai getaway than by unwinding on pristine sands surrounded by the turquoise sea? Boasting crystal-clear underwater visibility, colourful marine life, white-sand beaches and lush green vegetation, Nai Harn Beach is a must-visit destination. This quiet coastal cay located on the southern tip of the island draws thousands of visitors each year, yet it remains relatively untouched. Laze underneath the shade of towering palm trees, go snorkeling or take a stroll along the esplanade to uncover local gastronomic delights.

See the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is one of Phuket’s most iconic landmarks, and for good reason. The 45-metre-high statue, which sits high atop Nakkerd Hill, offers 360-degree panoramas over Phuket Town, Kata, Karon and Chalong Bay. Made from sparkling white Burmese marble, the Buddha glistens under the Thai sun. The statue is the third-largest in Thailand and is a sacred religious site. It is an incredibly peaceful spot, where only the soft sound of ringing bells can be heard.

Mix your favourite cocktails at Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Keen rum drinkers will cherish a visit to the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. The company produces world-acclaimed white rum using traditional French methods. On arrival, join a guided tour of the distillery and discover the work that goes on behind the scenes during distillation. End your tour with a cocktail-making workshop where you will learn how to make various cocktails using Chalong Bay Rum before kicking back and sampling your creations.

Hike to Karon Viewpoint

Sitting south of Kata Noi Beach is the wildly popular Karon Viewpoint. This tourist drawcard is the most visited lookout in Phuket thanks to its spectacular views of the turquoise Andaman Sea. From the top, you can clearly see the charms of the nearby Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beach towns. The hike takes anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, depending on where you begin your hike. We recommend bringing a hat, sunscreen and a water bottle with you, as the gradient is steep at times. The reward is well worth the effort and a camera is necessary to capture the point where the glistening ocean meets porcelain sand.

Go island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay

When ticking off things to do in Phuket, a day trip island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay is a must. Popular for its dramatic limestone cliffs and rock formations, the bay is home to over 40 serene islands, mangrove forests, hidden lagoons and mysterious caves. The best way to explore the beautiful islets of Phang Nga Bay is by canoe or kayak, where you can see the limestone caves and tunnels close up from a unique vantage point – a memory to remember for years to come. Don’t forget to paddle to ‘James Bond Island,’ locally known as Ko Tapu. If it looks familiar, it may be because ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was filmed here.

Take a Thai cooking class

Thailand is famed for its delicious cuisine and Phuket is no exception. The island is dotted with world-class eateries and tantalising street food stalls. The best way to taste it all? Join a cooking class and learn how to make your favourite Thai dishes to recreate the authentic flavours at home. Novices can master a classic Pad Thai while more adventurous foodies can learn to prepare a restaurant-quality Yum Nua or Khao Soi. Cooking classes are offered at most hotels and resorts in addition to local cooking schools.

Ready to explore? Discover our handpicked Phuket escapes.